Democratic National Committee vice chairwoman Tulsi Gabbard said she has been disinvited from the Tuesday Democratic presidential debate after comments she made on MSNBC calling for more debates, The New York Times reports.
While Gabbard said she was disinvited, an anonymous source close to the DNC told The New York Times that Gabbard was not disinvited, but was told to reconsider going because she could be a distraction.
Gabbard disputes the claim that she would be a distraction to the debate.
“It’s very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them,” Gabbard told the Times. “When I signed up to be vice chair of the DNC, no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door.”
Holly Shulman, a spokeswoman for the DNC, said that Tuesday debate in Las Vegas should be about contrasting the ideas of the Democratic Party to that of the Republican Party.
“The focus of the debate in Nevada as well as the other debates and forums in the coming weeks should be on the candidates who will take the stage, and their vision to move America forward,” said Shulman in an interview with the New York Times. “All that was asked of Ms. Gabbard’s staff was to prioritize our candidates and this important opportunity they have to introduce themselves to the American people. The Democratic Party is a big-tent party, and we embrace the diversity of opinions and ideas that come from our members.”
Since the debate schedule was announced, some Democrats have criticized the party’s lack of debates. The DNC has scheduled six primary debates.
DNC Chairwomen Debbie Wasserman-Shultz has made it clear that there will be no more debates, saying that the six debates are enough for the party even with heavy criticism from Democratic presidential contender Martin O’ Malley.
While Gabbard said she planed on watching the debate in her home distract in Hawaii, Bernie Sander’s campaign has invited the representative to sit with them at the debate.